Charlie White had his dream come true almost six weeks ago.
With the 884th overall pick in the 29th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the New York Yankees selected the Terrapins baseball center fielder.
All he had to do was a sign a contract prior to the July 12 signing deadline, and he would become a professional baseball player. His lifelong fantasy would become a reality.
But there was something stopping White from signing that piece of paper: unfinished business.
“We have a core group of players that are coming back, and we all have the same goal in mind,” said White, a redshirt junior. “In my three years at Maryland so far, we haven’t made the postseason, and that’s something that was one of my goals coming in: making it to the postseason and having success there.”
White was not alone, though. The Pittsburgh Pirates had selected Terps right-hander Jake Stinnett in the same round, 15 picks earlier. But the hard-throwing starter also passed up an opportunity to play professional baseball in order to return to Maryland.
“I love UMD, and I love playing there,” Stinnett said. “We have a great group of guys, great coaches, and I just have a lot of fun there.”
Stinnett will move into a more prominent role on coach John Szefc’s pitching staff with the departure of ace left-hander Jimmy Reed, whom the St. Louis Cardinals selected in the sixth round of the draft. Szefc will expect Stinnett to return to his late-season form from this spring, when he developed into a consistent strike-thrower and arose as the clear-cut No. 2 starter in the weekend rotation. Now he can be expected to bump up to the No. 1 slot.
“It’s an honor to be a Friday-night guy anywhere,” Stinnett said. “Hopefully I can just be a good leader for the team and get some wins. I want to be a good example for the younger guys, especially. I know Jimmy, last year … he really helped out the younger guys on the pitching staff and on the team. He’s a great leader, so hopefully I can fill his shoes.”
After a junior season similar to that of Stinnett’s — both pitchers started in the bullpen and made successful switches to the starting rotation midway through the season — Reed was selected in the 21st round of the 2012 draft by the New York Yankees.
The lefty returned to school for his final year, just as Stinnett has decided to do. Reed had a dominant season in which he compiled the seventh-best ERA in the ACC (2.33) and dramatically improved his draft stock.
“You saw what happened to Jimmy last year,” Stinnett said. “Hopefully something like that will happen to me because I know Jimmy is really happy about how that worked out with him.”
Two of the Terps’ high school signees, right-hander Michael Shawaryn and catcher Nick Cieri, will be joining the Terps in the fall, despite being drafted. The Kansas City Royals selected Shawaryn, and the San Francisco Giants selected Cieri in the 32nd round, but both remained unsigned at the deadline.
Shawaryn and Cieri are part of a strong freshman class that, along with the current squad, has the 2014 Terps poised to improve on last year’s result. Szefc will be returning a vast majority of his starters — the Terps only lost three seniors on the entire roster — and the former Kansas State coach has his first year in the ACC under his belt.
Most importantly, though, the players are hungry for the postseason.
So hungry, pro ball can wait.
“I’m excited to get back to work,” White said.